Tuscan Pasta Tordellata with ragu, Swiss chard and ricotta.
Known as Tuscan pasta tordellata, intordellata or stordellata, this delicious deconstructed version of a traditional tortelli recipe from Tuscany tastes as good as the filled pasta dish, with less work! I loved everything about this recipe, including having 2 sauces.
I’m sure you will love this recipe too. It takes a little while to make especially if you make the ragu from scratch. But, this is also a great way to use up leftover ragu or bolognese. In which case, all you need to do is make the Swiss chard with ricotta and cook the pasta!
(This recipe was originally published in 2018 but has been updated with new photos and text)
In Tuscany, tortelli (locally called tordelli) traditionally have a ricotta and swiss chard filling or are filled with a meat ragu containing Swiss chard. With both fillings the pasta is served with a Tuscan meat ragu. However, there are also other ways to serve the same ingredients with different pasta.
Lasagne tordellate and other versions.
In Tuscany, the most well-known of this method of serving filling as a condiment is lasagne tordellate or stordellate. That recipe, traditional in the Massa and Carrara province, is made with small thick usually homemade lasagne squares. The lasagne squares are dressed with a Swiss chard and ragu mix. This would normally be the filling inside tordelli. In Massa, they even hold a lasagne intordellate feast every year in July.
In other versions of this Tuscan pasta tordellata recipe, the filling and ragu aren’t mixed together and this is the recipe I made and have shared with you here. Obviously, the ‘filling’ in this version isn’t made with ragu but with ricotta and Swiss chard flavoured with nutmeg, as is traditional in the Maremma area of Tuscany. Some people also use spinach instead of chard.
What is Tuscan ragu?
The ragu I made for this Tuscan pasta tordellata recipe is a typical ragu from Tuscany. Tuscan ragu is with ground pork, beef and sausage meat. You can, of course, make it without the sausage if you prefer. Or, use your own ragu or Bolognese. It would be just as delicious. For vegetarians, a tomato or tomato and other veggie sauce is a delicious alternative.
For the pasta, I used gigli, also known as campanelle, a typical pasta from Tuscany. The gigli came from a pasta maker, called Pasta Vale in Campofilone, Le Marche. This town is famous for a very fine egg pasta called maccheroncini di Campofilone (also very good with ragu!).
Pasta Vale is a small family run business managed by a lovely young woman called Valeria Marilungo. She and her father make a great selection of dried egg pasta. I went to visit them last year when I was in Campofilone and Valeria gave me some of their pasta to try, including this very good gigli. Check out Pasta Vale’s Facebook page for more info.. https://www.facebook.com/pastavale/ or their website (only in Italian). I know they export to Malta but I’m not sure where else. https://www.pastavale.it/
If you don’t have gigli, you can make this recipe with many other types of pasta. I would recommend flat ribbons such as pappardelle or mafaldine or other short pasta such as penne! Alternatively, why not make some homemade lasagne and cut it into squares as they do in Tuscany?
Different ways to plate Tuscan pasta tordellata.
I mixed the ricotta and chard with the cooked pasta and served it with a generous helping of ragu on top. I actually made 2 layers on each plate. However, you can do this as one layer. I plated pasta with ricotta then ragu, then more pasta with ricotta and more ragu. But, whichever way you serve this recipe, I’m sure you will love it as much as I did. And your family or guests will love it too!
If you do try this recipe, I’d love to hear what you think. Please comment here on the blog or on the Pasta Project Facebook page. If you take photos, do join my pastaliciousness Facebook group and share them with us. I really appreciate your feedback!
If you like pasta with meat ragu, take a look at these other recipe. Italians don’t just make ragu with beef.
- Tagliatelle with authentic bolognese
- Bigoli with duck ragu from Veneto
- Tuscan wild boar ragu with pappardelle
- Fusilli with lamb ragu from Molis
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Tuscan pasta tordellata with ragu, Swiss chard and ricotta
- 400 g gigli or campanelle pasta (14oz) You can also use other types of pasta such as pappardelle or penne
For the Ragu
- 200 g minced/ground beef (7oz)
- 200 g minced/ground pork (7oz)
- 1-2 Italian pork sausages skin removed and chopped
- 1-2 onions peeled and finely chopped
- 2-3 carrots washed and finely chopped
- 1-2 celery stalks washed and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
- 1 glass red wine
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary washed and chopped
- 400 g fresh sauce tomatoes or tomato passata (14oz) Fresh tomatoes need to be peeled. blanch them in hot water then peel.
- 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
For ricotta sauce
- 400 g fresh Swiss chard (14oz) washed and stalks removed
- 250 g fresh ricotta (9oz)
- 1 knob butter
- 1 tsp nutmeg freshly grated
To complete the dish
- 50 g Parmigiano Reggiano (2oz) grated
- salt for pasta
Make the ragu
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan or skillet. Add the chopped onion, carrot, garlic and celery; cook and stir until the onion becomes translucent.
- Add the rosemary, sausage meat, ground beef and pork and cook and stir until browned.
- Add the red wine, stir, and let it evaporate. When the alcohol has evaporated, add peeled tomatoes or passata, stir and season with coarse salt and black pepper.
- Cover and let the ragu simmer at a low heat for at least an hour or more.
While the ragu is cooking make the ricotta and swiss chard sauce
- Prepare the chard by washing the leaves and cutting off the hard white stalk. Chop or tear the leaves into large pieces.
- Cook the chard in a pan with only the liquid that has stuck to the leaves when washed. Like cooking spinach. But if it dries out too much you can add a little more water. It takes about 10-15 minutes on a low heat.
- When the chard is ready, drain it and chop as finely as possible. Return it to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes more with a knob of butter.
- Let the chopped chard cool and then combine it with the ricotta in a bowl. Generously grate some fresh nutmeg over the mixture and blend with a wooden spoon.
Cook the pasta
- Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again. Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the packet.
Finish the dish
- Save a cup of the pasta cooking water then drain the pasta and mix it with the ricotta and chard. If the sauce seems dry add a little of the pasta cooking water.
- Mix the pasta and ricotta well together and plate. Serve with a generous helping of ragu. You can do this as one layer or make 2. First pasta with ricotta and chard, then ragu and then more pasta with chard and finally some more ragu.Serve with grated cheese.